Seems that I'm the odd man out on Tripadvisor, but I'm utterly bewildered (and more than a bit suspicious) as to the level of positive reviews for Fabian Tours. I used Mr. Woodbine for an airport transfer to Negril during my honeymoon at the end of December, as well as for day trips to Rick's Cafe and to the Black River/Floyd's Pelican Bar. While I would not call my experience with Fabian terrible (he was on time and a fairly safe driver), Fabian Tours was our least favorite aspect of the entire honeymoon.
First, Fabian's van is not in great condition - at first I thought this might be a common feature of private transport outfits in Jamaica, but this is definitely not the case. Oh well - not a huge deal. The bigger problem was that Mr. Woodbine spent almost all of his time in the van hinting that he wanted financial help with the expansion of his business or pointedly telling us about all the happy customers and generous he has had (some of whom have graciously granted him funds towards his website, etc.) Throughout the trip, Mr. Woodbine refused to direct any conversation to my wife, to the point that on the trip back to the airport on our last day (after about 8 hours total in the van with him) he did not remember her name. One time, when a slight miscommunication caused me to wait inside at Rick's for a text message from Mr. Woodbine instead of waiting out front , he stormed up to us, knocked his keys on the table, and wordlessly walked away while we followed him to his van. Keep in mind, this incident occurred less than 5 minutes after the time I had asked for him to come in a text message, and I had never received any confirmation from Mr. Woodbine. On the way back from the Black River trip, Mr. Woodbine informed us that he had to get someone from the airport, and would have to drop us off in a small town where one of his 'associates' (translation: whoever he could reach on the phone and persuade to help him out for a fee) would take us the rest of the way. This fell through, though we still had to pull over outside Negril for a few minutes so Mr. Woodbine could pick up his girlfriend. I'm assuming this means that one of his 'associates' picked up his client from the airport.
Now, our experience wasn't a total disaster, so until now I refrained from writing any kind of negative review. Mr. Woodbine did let us use a cell phone for one night without charging us, and also gave us a couple of knicknacks as a gift on our last day. (It should be noted, however, that each of these gestures was followed by a torrent of 'That's how I do business - I take care of my customers, and they take care of me.') What put me over the top is that I just got a ridiculous scam email from Mr. Woodbine, which states that he is marooned in Lagos and needs $1,500.00 wired to him so that he can get back to Jamaica. No word on whether any of that money is going to a Nigerian prince whose assets are frozen; I'll keep you posted.
So, to recap:
Pros: On time; fairly safe driver; let us use cell phone.
Cons: Moody/rude; unprofessional; 40% of all conversation involves scarcely veiled requests for money; attempted to scam hundreds of dollars off me in an email.
Finally, I just want to point out that I understand that people in the tourist industry - especially in a relatively poor country like Jamaica - are trying to make a living. There were plenty of sales people that we met on our week there, but none of them were manipulative nor rude as Mr. Woodbine proved to be - even though we were already paying him close to $300 for his services. We absolutely loved the rest of our experience in Jamaica, and would love to go again - but we will not be using Mr. Woodbine's services.
If anyone would like an alternate referral, I would suggest Gary Miller, who operated outside of Sunset at the Palms when we were there. He was our driver on New Year's Eve and it was a great experience. Unfortunately, I lost the cell phone that had Mr. Miller's number, but if you call SATP I'm sure they can get you in touch with him (or, if you're staying at SATP, Hunter is the resident driver in the resort lot who was also a pleasure to work with.)
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.